This wonderful 1878 paper by Doctor Paolo Mantegazza concerning the atrophy and absence of wisdom teeth in modern man constitutes the greatest in-depth study of the topic since Charles Darwin first discussed the matter in his famous 1871 book, "The Descent of Man." Mantegazza, the Director of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology in Florence, Italy examined 1,000 skulls (many being ancient) and confirmed Darwin's "opinion that the third molar unquestionably possesses the tendency to disappear," and "we shall witness over the millennia the progressive decline of this organ." In a most enlightening Discussion period following Mantegazza's presentation, various members of the Anthropology Society of Paris offer their insights and findings regarding the wisdom tooth, its size in different races, etc.
February 24, 2012 Subject:
Important paper in the History of Science
This paper's author, Doctor Paolo Mantegazza, maintained an active correspondence with Charles Darwin, and was one of the leading defenders and proponents in the 19th Century of Darwin's theories. Nowhere is this clearer than in this important paper in the History of Science. Here we see Mantegazza firmly holding his ground against certain criticisms of his impressive study by asserting with respect to Darwin's belief that the wisdom tooth will progressively decline in man that "my work provides it a more solid argument, and establishes its significance."
-- Professor Gerald Kuhn